In many countries, girls are violated from within the womb. The fact that the fetus is identified as a girl makes her life much harder because of her sex and the gender roles which would be assigned to her. For many girls residing in African countries, various types of violent acts negatively impact their lives and even shorten their life spans, hindering their social and economic progress.
Infanticide, incest, rape, lack of education, human trafficking, early and forced marriage are some of the issues that affect the lives of girls in many African countries, which are classified as the informal and formal sectors in the domains of change. In this essay, I use the AWID framework (Association for Women’s right in Development) dynamic of change to discuss ways of addressing the issues stated above.
To address the challenges girls in many African countries face, we must address all the issues related to each quadrant of this domain of change for a holistic and sustainable transformation in Africa. The culture of discrimination, marginalization and exclusion of the girl child is at times the most challenging domain because formal (legislative or policy) changes often do not address these areas nor do they penetrate the invisible or informal quadrant.
In the formal side of the quadrant, it is important to develop and domesticate policies that address the issues of the girl child in Africa for instance the Child Rights Act, Violence Against Persons Prohibtion (VAPP) Act and Universal Basic Education (UBE) for all. Community-level awareness must be done regarding policies that have been domesticated. Inclusion of more women in decision-making platforms promotes the development of policies that addresses issues relating the girl child.
In the informal side of the quadrant, we need to develop counter norms around beliefs, attitude, values, culture and practices, which can be done by changing the way in which we socialize our children, thus creating a positive impact on the lives of girls. Traditions are made by human beings and traditions can also be changed by human beings for peaceful co-existence of all. Establishing a community center would help in socialization process and development of the community, which serves as a support and rescue safe space for both women and men.
Our education curriculum can be revised to promote gender equality and equity. Mentorship programs for girls by girls should be considered and training men and boys to be gender sensitive trainers is also important. The involvement of men and boys in program development and implementation is crucial to the success of programs. All our ideas should benefit girls and boys so that we do not leave boys out of development, as Ubuntu says ‘I am because we are.’
Srilantha B and Pittman A (2010). Capturing change in Women’s realities. A critical overview of current M&E framework and approaches. AWID (Association for Women Right in Development).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Abiodun Essiet is a Nigerian. She has seven years experience in project management and leadership with passion for community development leadership by women. She holds a Bachelor of Nursing Science degree, Registered Nurse, Registered mid- wife and Registered Public Health Nursing certificates and a Masters in Public Health. She also has a certificate in community leadership by women from Coady International Institute, Canada. Abiodun is the Executive Director of two non-governmental organizations in Nigeria with focus on youth development and women empowerment, which has made her to be actively engaged in public service, volunteerism and mentoring younger youth in the community. She is a woman leader for Nigerian Women Trust Fund, a non-governmental organization that is committed to bridging the gender gap in decision making platforms in Nigeria. Abiodun is a Board Member and Health Consultant for SEGEI.